Yesterday, Senator Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge) introduced a bill in the California legislature that would require all bicycle riders, including adults, to wear a helmet, and to wear reflective clothing at night.
Senator Liu has been an ally for active transportation and bicycling, including supporting the three-foot law that took so long to get passed, and she has promoted safe walking and bicycling during her long tenure in the legislature. But if, as Liu staffer Robert Oakes told Streetsblog, Liu’s “point of view is that we should do everything to encourage active transportation,” this bill will not achieve that.
“Remove Cyclists From California Roads Law of 2015″ or, alternatively, the “Harass Minorities On Bikes Law of 2015.”
Oakes said the Senator and her staff looked at youth bike helmet laws as a model. Seeing that more and more states have adopted them encouraged the staff to think that California could be the first state to impose a mandatory helmet law on adults. They say that the youth helmet laws heard similar arguments—that fewer people would ride bikes—before they were adopted.
“But no one in 21 years has proposed a bill to repeal the youth helmet law,” he said.
Streetsblog would like to suggest the Senator review the research on the effects of bike helmet laws on the number of kids who ride bikes, including this gem of a conclusion from one paper: “Thus, the observed reduction in bicycle-related head injuries may be due to reductions in bicycle riding induced by the laws.”
Another suggested area of research is in how this law might be applied inequitably to different types of bicycle riders; the Senator and her staff could start with this recent Streetsblog story. Or this one.